3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds... - 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
This Sunday at church we spoke about the walls of Jericho in Joshua 6. We talked about the ways that we are often rendered powerless by opposition to our faith or life circumstances. We bump up against walls and fortifications that seem impenetrable.
Over the past week, I have felt powerless and deeply troubled by the events that unfolded during a political demonstration of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. I have been speaking with a college friend who lives in Charlottesville. We have been processing together what happened.
As we talked, we met walls in two places. Most obviously, we were both grieved by what we read and witnessed in news accounts of the rhetoric and actions of the protestors. This was easy for us both to condemn as contrary to our values and beliefs rooted in Christ Jesus. More difficult were the walls that we bumped into within ourselves as we wrestled with our own history and complicity (if only indirect) with the racial divides and prejudices in our nation and our world. Both grieved us and loomed large over us like the walls of Jericho.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. Rather are weapons are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,” the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth and to us. So, we talked, prayed, and invited the Holy Spirit to convict our hearts, to lead us in righteousness, and to show us how to face these walls.
We decided that the easy path would be to react in self-righteous anger at the broken and perverted actors in this drama. Yes, it would protect us from introspection and give us the moral high ground that we craved. But it would merely be warfare according to our flesh.
Instead, we chose to do the two things. First, we prayed for ourselves. We talked together and confessed and asked God to move us into his righteousness. We submitted aspects of our world and culture that we had grown up with but fell short of this righteousness. Second, we chose a man who we had both seen in news coverage who seemed instrumental in the worst of the events in Charlottesville. We covenanted to pray for him by name. We would ask God to protect others from him and to rescue him in Christ… even as Jesus is rescuing us from the brokenness of our pride, our fear, our hatred, and our self-righteous condemnation of the other.
We believe that the weapons of our warfare are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds… even the walls revealed to us in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Jesus, search us and know us. Lead us to lay down all within us… all that has defined us that falls short of your best for us, for our neighbors, and for your glory. Then teach us to move in you to tear down strongholds in our families, our work, our schools, our neighborhoods, and our world. Move in your mercy through us to bless those around us. In Jesus’ name, amen.